Police Hang Turkish Flags on Starbucks Storefronts in Adana

Special for the Armenian Weekly

Adana Metropolitan Municipality Mayor Huseyin Sozlu instructed the municipality’s police to hang Turkish flags at the entrance of Starbucks locations across Adana on Feb. 22, in response to apologies issued by Starbucks and California-based designer Timothy Rose to the Armenian community. The apology came after the company featured a controversial photograph—depicting women wearing what appeared to be Armenian traditional costumes and standing under balloons carrying the Turkish crescent and star—in a marketing campaign around the Los Angeles area, which angered many local Armenians.

Police hang Turkish flags at the entrance of Starbucks locations across Adana
Police hang Turkish flags at the entrance of Starbucks locations across Adana

According to Turkey’s demokrathaber.net, at least five Starbucks locations throughout Adana were draped in Turkish flags.

Sozlu, a member of Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a Turkish far-right political party informally known as the Grey Wolves, released a statement about his decision to hang the flags:

"We have responded to this attack by hanging our glorious flag from Starbucks shops in Adana. Our flag is sacred to us and will wave in every corner of our country forever.”
“We have responded to this attack by hanging our glorious flag from Starbucks shops in Adana. Our flag is sacred to us and will wave in every corner of our country forever.”

“As it happens every year, the Armenian Diaspora, which is prepared to make unsubstantiated accusations against our country and the Turkish nation, was able to remove posters that featured our flag from Starbucks locations in the Los Angeles area. They used the influence gained by the number of Armenians in the area. We do not find it right that [Starbucks]— by accepting the reaction of the Armenians—is becoming a party to this injustice,” read the statement. “ This year, on April 24, the Armenian Diaspora will attack the Turkish nation and Turkey with more force than in the past. They have started the year, which they see as the 100th anniversary of the alleged Armenian Genocide, with a campaign to remove our flag. We have responded to this attack by hanging our glorious flag from Starbucks shops in Adana. Our flag is sacred to us and will forever wave in every corner of our country.”

 

Mysterious posters

The posters that sparked this debacle were displayed at Starbucks locations throughout the Los Angeles area early on Feb. 19. The apparent attempt by Starbucks to appeal to the area’s large Armenian population proved to be a misstep for the coffee giant, as a wave of protests was quick to follow after images of the offensive poster sprung up on various social media outlets.

The posters that sparked this debacle were displayed at Starbucks locations throughout the Los Angeles area early on Feb. 19.
The posters that sparked this debacle were displayed at Starbucks locations throughout the Los Angeles area early on Feb. 19.

The Los Angeles-based Asbarez newspaper was the first to break the story about the mysterious posters, which prompted an outpour of anger in the community. After inquiries from Asbarez, a Starbucks spokesperson said that the chain has already begun the removal of the offensive posters and apologized for upsetting their customers. Speaking with the Armenian Weekly, Asbarez editor Ara Khachatourian explained that he contacted Starbucks headquarters in Seattle directly and that they were swift in their response.

“It was an interesting grassroots movement that played out online. People were angry,” said Khachatourian.

 

The Starbucks apology

Although it is unclear exactly how many shops displayed the photograph, Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) Executive Director Aram Hamparian believes they were displayed in at least “two or three locations in Southern California.”

“Why is Starbucks selling coffee using an image of women, dressed in traditional Armenian costumes, celebrating a Turkish state that systematically victimized Armenian women during the Armenian Genocide, and that still denies this crime against all humanity?” the ANCA wrote in a post on its Facebook page.

Soon after, Starbucks posted an apology on the ANCA’s Facebook page, promising to remove the offending photographs. The short statement read:

“Thank you to all who raised this concern to us today. Serving as a place for the community to connect is core to our business and we strive to be locally relevant in all of our stores. We missed the mark here and we apologize for upsetting our customers and the community. We have removed this art from our Mulholland & Calabasas store in Woodland Hills and are working to make this right.”

Speaking to RFE/RL, Hamparian noted that Starbucks responded quickly and appropriately. “It became very clear very quickly that this was a very serious issue for the entire community, because we started getting a flood of concern,” said Hamparian.

The photograph originated from designer Timothy Rose, whose resume includes creative design work for Coca-Cola and Nike.

On Feb. 19, Rose posted a statement on his website apologizing for the image, which he acknowledged was “rightfully offensive to the Armenian community.” The statement read:

“To all the Armenian community, I wish to apologize for the photograph taken for Starbucks in 2011. Neither I nor the photographer knew the dancers were Armenian. We were traveling around the world shooting photojournalistic images for the brand and captured this image during a festival in 2011 for Ataturk. There was no Photoshopping or models used. Once it came to my attention that this was rightfully offensive to the Armenian community, I took the image down. I am in full support of their plight and would never have knowingly supported any action that would hurt either them or cause unnecessary pain. My deepest apologies.”

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Rupen Janbazian

Rupen Janbazian is the former editor of The Armenian Weekly. He is currently based in Yerevan, where he serves as the director of public relations of the Tufenkian Foundation.
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37 Comments

  1. I still do not understand what the significance was of the original photos that showed Armenian dancers and a Turkish flag.
    Seems to me that since the Turkish flag was a significant part of the picture whose significance could not be missed, that this was part of some very “pc” multicultural project by Starbucks to showcase various countries.
    Why would Starbucks want to showcase Turkey?
    I mean, if Turkey why not North Korea?

    • “Why would Starbucks want to showcase Turkey?

      Because they have 106 stores in Istanbul alone. For reference, Los Angeles has 105 Starbucks.

      “I mean, if Turkey why not North Korea?

      Because they have no presence in North Korea. So to answer your question: capitalism. That’s why they would want to showcase Turkey.

    • Vahe,
      Turkey will do their best, in order to picture themselves as civilized and well improved Muslim nation. As long as they deny Christian Genocide, especially Armenian Genocide, they will get no friendly response from well educated American citizens. Turks have tried similar political tactics in Europe, their satanic intention to cover up Armenian Genocide, brought disastrous political failure, over denialist Turkish government!

  2. I don’t know who is more stupid, Starbucks or Mr. Oral? I mean, if Starbucks was trying to appeal to the Armenian community, how is it that they overlooked the fact that the flag was not Armenian? Plus, where did the artist get the images to put them together. You would think when he researched the flag, somewhere it would have mentioned the name Turkey. I know most Americans are oblivious to world affairs and culture, but this is just over the top. On the other hand, Mr. Oral’s tirade is also illogical. Starbucks did not remove the Turkish flag per se. It removed the Armenian dancers who happen to be in the same picture with the flag. This reminds me of an incident back in the 1990s when Bob Dole was running for president. Some moron mayor in Turkey decided to ban Dole bananas because Bob Dole was supporting Armenians. The magnitude of stupidity has no bounds in this world!

  3. I didn’t think Turks would want their flag on a poster with Armenian dancers either, given their irrational hatred of Armenians. Unless they consider the outfits Turkish rather than Armenian, given their habit of stealing other people’s culture and calling it their own. Who knows what goes through their minds.

  4. why do armenians always complain about anything turkish or remotely in this case it appears that there is much more than armnenians gaining restitution its deeper! its jealousy sadly from the armenians.

    • Thanks kindly mate! Your response makes perfect sense and I concur, I’m a middle aged man who has heard this endless rubbish all my life; the few Armenians that I know are more angered than Turks when this topic keeps popping up! We lost many Turks in the WWI atrocities circa 1915; Dr. Shaw (UCLA) published a book with proof showing that there were only 300,000 Armenians in the diaspora, therefore, the claims are unfounded anyway! I wonder when people will simple look to the future and stop brainwashing their future generations with inbred hate! Thank you again!

  5. Thank you, Turks, for showing us that the majority of you are still the low class thugs that committed the Armenian genocide. I mean, snakes can’t birth anything other than snakes, so it makes sense.

  6. I’ve read so many posts & articles about this, none answers the questions (what were these Armenians doing in Turkey at a festival for Atatürk? Are they even Armenians? Were they even representing Armenia & Armenians?). And for those who still don’t know, the photographer was commissioned by Starbucks to catch ‘Starbucks moments’ around the world, check out his website to find the other photos from around the world. In any case, does anyone have answers to my questions above?

    • That’s what I want to know too. Are they Turk? Or are they from the Armenian community in Turkey taking part in the commemorations?

  7. The Turkish police involved in hanging Turkish flags on Starbucks store fronts, to show their support for those racist posters denigrating the Armenians, reminds me of the Turkish gendarmes involved in the forced expulsion of the indigenous Armenians from their homes at gun point and their standing guard of the Armenian deportees to make sure none of them survived. These Turkish vermin never cease to amaze me as to how low they can sink.

    The last time I checked the police were supposed to serve and protect their citizens, instead of putting up flags to show their consent and hatred of the native Armenians, but then again the Armenians are not considered citizens of their own homeland under Turkish occupation.

  8. This was no honest mistake.
    This was a deliberate provocation: part of Turkish campaign against AG 100th.
    By Turkish-Americans in SB management, or denialist Anti-Armenian collaborators of Turks: the usual suspects.

    As Asbarez correctly asked the question in its article: why didn’t Starbucks also display the posters in Glendale ?
    Clearly whoever came up with the idea knew the Turkish flag would be too controversial in Glendale: massive and immediate blowback.
    So they spread their venom outside main concentrations of Armenian-Americans in LA County.

    The RFE/RL story had this strange paragraph:
    {WASHINGTON — An attempt by U.S. coffee giant Starbucks to appeal to Los Angeles’ sizable Armenian population has backfired after its coffee shops displayed posters depicting women dressed in traditional Armenian garb under the crescent and star of the Turkish flag.}

    Question: why would Starbucks try to appeal to Armenian-Americans by displaying a Turkish flag ?
    Even people on the street in US who are not familiar with the specifics know that “….there was trouble between Turks and Armenians…”.
    So how plausible is it that SB management knew nothing about the Armenian Genocide ?
    Not very.
    Things don’t add up.

    Mr. Rose wrote this:

    {Neither I nor the photographer knew the dancers were Armenian. We were traveling around the world shooting photojournalistic images for the brand and captured this image during a festival in 2011 for Ataturk. There was no Photoshopping or models used….}

    A detailed review and analysis of the picture of Armenian women above finds Mr. Rose’s assertion highly disingenuous.

    • If there was no photoshoping of the picture, who are those women? Armenian or Turk? Did the photographer know? We have to eliminate ignorance before we make an accusation of malicious intent.

      Showing am image with the Turkish flag in Glendale is an easy one for most people to understand as a no-no. But to know those are Armenian costumes requires more understanding of culture. Seriously, how many odars who know about the genocide are actually familiar with Armenian culture?

  9. Action and reaction. If Starbucks apologizes for using the Turkish emblems, the Turks will show their reaction. Sounds very understandable. Who cares the Grey Wolves in the Turkish politics anyway? No one.

    Ahahaha, RVDV, believe me capitalism is not that simple. It’s Starbucks, it has 21,160 stores. Twenty one thousand.

    • “Who cares the Grey Wolves in the Turkish politics anyway? No one.

      17.8 percent of the electorate who voted for MHP in the 2014 local elections care. That’s who. Worry about your grasp on Turkish politics before you give lessons on capitalism.

  10. I am not upset with the photographer or Starbucks – unless this was photoshopped (did a professional artist check?), they meant no harm. What I am really upset about is why are there supposedly Armenian girls in traditional costume for an Ataturk festival. What are they celebrating exactly and so happy about?

  11. According to Tim Rose, they are not Armenians.

    “Upon further investigation, it turns out these were Turkish High School girls in a folklore dance competition on Celebration day in Istanbul. My apology stands to the Armenian community. The apology has been taken down from my web page because it is my place of business and I feel this matter resolved. I also wish to point out that I haven’t worked for Starbucks in 3 years and their choice to place a Turkish poster (one of thousands taken around the world) in an Armenian area of Los Angeles had nothing to do with me as I do not own the images and have no say as to where they are placed. This particular image has been up in Turkey for years according to the people who have written me from Turkey.”

    • So the women are not Armenian.

      One question to ask is, how widespread is the costumes, seen in those images, outside of Armenian culture?

    • Random,

      I don’t about costumes exactly like the one in the picture, but costumes very similar are traditionally worn by women in central and eastern Turkey. Perhaps not in every day life, but still. By Turks and Kurds.

  12. These people hanging the flags are such asses, but on the other hand, it’s Turkey. They have loads of Starbucks shops. They have the right to hang flags anywhere they want in their own country.
    I admit, when I saw the posters, it pissed me off, too, but even still, I knew there had to be a reasonable explanation to why Starbucks chose to display these images. And there is.
    The girls depicted in the advertising posters in CA were Turkish girls in Turkey at an Ataturk festival. The fact that their dress was certainly of a distinctively Armenian design, is what made the photo offensive to Armenians who saw this in CA.
    However, we need to bear in mind that the Turkish Government, which has erased all Armenian history from its country, have also made anything remaining of Armenian culture, Turkish. So all Turkish people (including the young ladies in the image) have also unwittingly “co-opted” our native Armenian dress, in very much the same way as Armenians of the Ottoman era were commonly seen to wear Turkish styles and (Muslim) Fezes. These girls in the photo could not have known these dresses were actually not Turkish.
    This slight and trivial distinction of style couldn’t be expected to be known by Starbucks advertising people, either, because they’re not Armenians. It’s only something an Armenian would recognize.
    So what did Starbucks do wrong? Nothing, actually. And, they apologized immediately when they learned that people were offended.
    The Turks in this case, are taking the opportunity of this small controversy, to rub the offense to Armenians in, by running around hanging Turkish flags on all their Starbucks stores. It is childish and mean-spirited, and is certainly meant as an insult to Armenians. They could have been diplomatic, and gentlemanly, and just ignored the brief and largely unknown controversy and let it go, but sadly, that’s not what they’re choosing to do. National pride is the same in every country, and when nations are challenged by insults, no matter how minor or petty, or enormous, this is how they all tend to react. We can’t change their behavior. As an Armenian, I say, the best thing we can do as Armenians is to not react at all.

  13. Armenians need to seriously just chill and relax. These costume wearers might be ethnic Hemshins, which you guys claim to be related to you guys. So these are probably I am guessing Hemshins from Rize or Artvin province, or Laz people (in which Laz people are related to the Georgians). So you guys need to seriously not over-react if you ask me.

    • We guys will over-react anytime we feel like it.

      Your guys murdered approximately 2 million Armenian civilians (1894-1923), defenseless men, women, children, babies.
      1000s of years of indgenous Armenian presence wiped out from Western Armenia by nomadic tribes from Uyguristan.
      Your guys are still denying it, and some of you guys are actually blaming Armenians: blaming Armenian children and babies for their own murder.
      Your guys stole all our property, our children, everything…. and are still living on our lands.

      You guys went ballistic when Israel murdered 9 Turks. Nine.
      You guys still have not chilled out about it, even though Israel apologized and offered compensation: but not enough; Turks want more.
      Did you say _we_ need to “..seriously just chill and relax.”, Turk ?

      Thanks for the unsolicited advice Turkoglu, but we aren’t asking you.
      Chill dude.

    • The Hemshin speak a dialect of Armenian and about half the people who claim to be Hemshin, spread around the black sea area are Christian.

    • Random Armenian, actually you are wrong, Hemshin people in Turkey are Sunni Muslims.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemshin_peoples

      There was an event a few years back when the Armenians from Armenia came to Turkey to try to convert the Hemshin to Christianity and the Hemshins were offended that their Christian counterparts couldn’t accept them as the Muslims they are.

    • theo,

      the wiki page has this passage:

      “Homshentsik (also designated occasionally as Northern Homshentsik in publications) are Christians who live in Abkhazia and in Russia’s Krasnodar Krai. They speak Homshetsma as well.[41] There are also some Muslim Hamshentsi living in Georgia and Krasnodar [42] and some Hamshentsi elements amongst the Meskhetian Turks.[43]”

      That’s what I was referring to. I think the the ones living in Turkey are all muslim.

  14. This matter needs to be investigated and the people who are responsible should be exposed and punished by being fired from their jobs. It’s obvious there is Turkish finger behind it, and time will prove it.

  15. (Jack // February 25, 2015 at 10:09 am //)

    Mr. Rose’s original apology reads as follows:

    http://asbarez.com/131986/starbucks-poster-photographer-apologizes-to-armenian-community/

    “Neither I nor the photographer knew the dancers were Armenian”.

    Now, Mr. Rose has come up with: “…Upon further investigation…”.
    Yeah, sure, that’s a good one: why didn’t he investigate it before issuing the apology ?
    He could have said at the outset: “Sorry folks, these are NOT Armenian women. Case closed”.

    And if the women are not Armenian, why would RFERL, a notorious Anti-Armenian Turkophile ‘news’ site write this:

    {An attempt by U.S. coffee giant Starbucks to appeal to Los Angeles’ sizable Armenian population has backfired after its coffee shops displayed posters depicting women dressed in traditional Armenian garb under the crescent and star of the Turkish flag.}

    Mr. Rose again:
    {“This particular image has been up in Turkey for years according to the people who have written me from Turkey.”}
    OK: let’s see some Google images from years ago of these posters in Starbucks in Turkey.

    Mr. Rose again:
    {“it turns out these were Turkish High School girls in a folklore dance competition on Celebration day in Istanbul”}
    So before it was Ataturk festival in 2011.
    Now it is folklore dance competition on ‘Celebration day’ in Istanbul.
    OK, if it is an alleged folklore dance competition, why is it we see only men in the background ?
    And there is no ‘Celebration’ day (with a capital C) in Turkey*.

    Maybe Mr. Rose was used by Anti-Armenian Turkophiles at Starbucks.
    Maybe he didn’t know what he was getting into.
    But Armenian people are too ready to forgive and forget in these types of cases: ask yourselves how the Jewish-American community would have reacted in a similar situation. And what the consequences would have been for those who did it, particularly Starbucks.

    And, yeah, the picture was Photoshopped.


    * http://www.wittistanbul.com/magazine/public-national-and-religious-holidays-in-turkey/

  16. I find it weird that it would be offensive to the Armenian community in Los Angeles, if this poster would be used in a Starbucks Store in Armenia i would understand, i would be offended to. But the girls(and their costumes) on the poster could easily be from another ethnic group (Circassian, Laz,Azeri).Even if they represented the Armenian culture i would not be offended at all.
    We forget that there is an lage group of Armenians in Turkey that live in peace. Turkey choise to respresent the Armenian culture should be seen as a step in the right direction.

    • “We forget that there is an lage group of Armenians in Turkey that live in peace.”

      It’s a small group, and a shrinking one at that. On top of that, they’re not exactly in peace. They’ve learned how to live in Turkey by not crossing certain lines. If you cross, those lines, well just look at Hrant Dink.

      ” Turkey choise to respresent the Armenian culture should be seen as a step in the right direction.”

      I have no idea what you’re trying to say here. Turkey chose to represent the Armenian culture? When was this? Turkey has been trying to cover up Armenian history since the founding of the republic.

    • @Suzii, what you need to realize is the fact that the Turkish flag symbolizes occupation and genocide to the Armenians. The Armenian dancers with their traditional costumes can not coexist in the same picture with the flag of a terrorist state that wiped out their ancestors and confiscated their homeland.

      Do you still feel weird how offensive this photo could be to the Armenians?

    • That political picture of Starbucks is not appropriate, for decedents of Armenian Genocide in USA. Under the same blood soaked flag, Central Asian Turkic invaders slaughtered 1.5 million Armenians and 1 million Greeks and Assyrians, never mind Hamidian massacres… That political hanging picture of coffee shop outlet, would have been very appropriate, if the star and moon was not shown on the bloons. Turks acted very similar political tactics during opening of Akhtamar Church. Fanatic Turks had covered entire Church property with star and moon blood soaked flags, just like cheap Turkish delights from Ankara’s famous candy factory!

    • All Armenian businesses in Istanbul display the photo of our first President as well as the flag and proudly feel part of our community! You are very correct in your observation. Also, the costumes seem to be very regional in design and may well be from either Laz or Azeri ethnic background as stated. We have had no problems with Armenians for generations in Istanbul that I know of, the issue with the Armenians has been a hateful rhetoric which spewed from Armenian Nationalist parties inviting the youth to take to terror against Turkey. This is shameful. In a recent incident in late January 2019, Armenians themselves posted Turkish flags on Armenian schools in Los Angeles by night and acted surprised as they showed up in the morning and called the Police. It turns out that the same hate minded people had an issue with Turkish speaking (mostly mixed Armenian/Turkish language speakers) children in 2 schools in question. Many families pulled their children out of the Armenian schools in the preceding 3 months siting that the schools were not forbidding the mixed language spoken by many Armenians as this is commonplace. Many Armenians originally lived in Modern Day Turkey and thus speak a mix of Turkish and Armenian, they also eat Turkish food and enjoy a Turkish culture (other than religion) as opposed to Eastern Armenians who may have the same issues with a Russian/Armenian mix of language but without the hateful connection. In summary, this is senseless and I don’t believe that we have ever seen any proof in modern times that Turks have acted against Armenians although this hatred is clearly demonstrated over and over again! Such a shame!

  17. Let’s face it, even today, thousands (and perhaps, millions) of Armenian still live under that flag. However, if you look thru the picture gallery on the website you will also see an image of Akhtamar cathedral included in the festivities: http://www.anatolianfestival.org/ Despite the flag or the graphics, we all should remember that Armenians are as much a part of that territory, if not more so, than any of those who arrived there at a later date in history.

    • What do you mean “thousands (and perhaps, millions) of Armenians still live under that flag”. It sounds like they voluntarily chose to live under the bloodstained flag. Hundreds of thousands were forcibly converted to Islam, abducted to harems, conscripted to devşirme, gang-raped and impregnated, reluctantly changed their identity. You call this “living under that flag”?! Yes, we see an image of Akhtamar cathedral and, again, the bloodstained flag demonstrably exhibited in front of it. And you should always remember that Armenians are not originally “a part” of that territory, but its autochtonous inhabitants. You should also remember that whoever you meant by “those who arrived at a later date in history”, never actually “arrived” in the true sense of the word. They invaded the land as intruders, stole civilizational achievements of sedentary peoples, settled on their lands, colonized them and ultimately barbarously mass murdered them. I don’t know if in your inimitable vocabulary these actions are characterized as “arrival”.

  18. I find this very childish, grown policemnan behaving like this! Erdogan is equally childish in his pathetic protestations about the Armenian genocide, his anger and threats to the pope and other countries who have recognised the genocide. Turkey is one BIG BULLY and an evil force in this world… God help the Armenian people who live there……these people have no conscience whatsoever

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